Legislative Iniatives

Current SMACNA of Long Island policy positions.

SMACNA takes a strong leadership role on Capitol Hill. SMACNA National puts all the resources needed to stay on top of industry issues in the nation’s capital, including a legislative office just two blocks from the U.S. Senate. This effort is matched by committed SMACNA members and it pays off in the direct impact our industry has with legislators and regulators. SMACNA leaders and members know that competing interests will step up to the plate and important battles will be lost without our experience, knowledge and input.

Contact SMACNA LI to learn more about the Long Island chapter of the SMACNA.

Competitive Market Policies Positions

ISSUE: ANTI COMPETITIVE UTILITY COMPETITION

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports federal, state and local efforts to reduce unfair competitive opportunities by utilities, including subsidized diversification into new utility businesses.

ISSUE: ASBESTOS REFORM: MEDICAL TREATMENT AND FACILITIES ABATEMENT

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports the creation of a federally sanctioned and administered asbestos compensation trust fund to reduce the costs, delay and uncertainty involved in screening, assessing, litigating and compensating individuals impaired by asbestos exposure. In addition, effective federal guidelines, incentives and grants for coordinated asbestos removal programs covering public and private facilities are necessary to preempt conflicting state and local laws, rules and regulations.

ISSUE: CHLOROFLUOROCARBONS

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports an orderly and prioritized phase-out of harmful chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) such as the approach in the Montreal Protocol Agreement.

SMACNA opposes state restrictions beyond those mandated by the federal government or beyond a model state regulation prepared or endorsed by recognized standard setting organizations such as the National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards, the National Institute of Building Sciences or the Council of American Building Officials.

ISSUE: CLEAN AIR

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports efforts to attain and maintain good air quality but opposes placing the principal burden of compliance on the construction industry. Nonattainment sanctions should not cripple economic growth or the construction industry.

ISSUE: CONTRACT AGREEMENT ON FEDERAL PROJECTS

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports the right of project owners on federally funded and private projects to negotiate and establish project wide agreement terms for all contractors and subcontractors, including “union only” subcontracting clauses.

ISSUE: CONTRACTING OUT FEDERAL SERVICES TO THE PRIVATE SECTOR

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports a federal legislation and procurement policy which requires reliance on quality procurement from the private sector and value engineering for the production of commercially available construction services.

ISSUE: ENERGY EFFICIENCY, SUSTAINABILITY AND GREEN BUILDINGS

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA urges Congress to enact aggressive efficiency and alternative energy tax incentives, green building grant programs, high efficiency infrastructure investments and federal procurement policy that encourages far greater efficiency and sustainability in commercial, residential and public buildings.

ISSUE: FOREIGN TRADE AGREEMENTS

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports foreign trade agreements that enhance opportunities for increased industry trade, material supply, investment and jobs while strengthening competitiveness as long as federal safeguards are implemented to prevent unfair trade practices.

ISSUE: INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports fair competition in construction based upon vigorous enforcement and audit action by the Internal Revenue Service that ensures the proper classification of workers and to assure the full payment of employment taxes by legitimate independent contractors.

ISSUE: INDOOR AIR QUALITY

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports the development and enforcement of indoor air quality guidelines for federal and state facilities and the accelerated development and implementation of technology that improves workplace air quality.

ISSUE: MILLER ACT REFORM

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports federal legislation to reform the Miller Act to require that the dollar level of payment and performance bonds equal the contract price and subcontract amounts for all the subcontract tiers on federal projects. In addition, the law should provide assurances that bonds are in effect, bonding rules enforced and all bonds are actively guaranteed for the duration of the project.

ISSUE: PENSION INVESTMENT IN PUBLIC PROJECTS

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports the voluntary use of a limited portion of pension funds in targeted infrastructure projects or investments yielding competitive financial returns.

ISSUE: PRODUCT LIABILITY REFORM

SMACNA supports federal product liability reform that:

•    Protects small business installers, wholesalers, and service firms from product
liability suits where the fault clearly rests with the manufacturer or others;
•    Preserves employer rights to recover workers’ compensation cost from guilty third
parties and that;
•    Standardizes liability law from state to state.

ISSUE: FEDERAL CONTRACTS STANDARDS POLICY

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports reforms to federal contract payment policy which would require prompt payment, strict worker classification enforcement and bid listing on all public and/or private work. In addition, bonding requirements should be enforced for the duration of the project and reform to the Anti Deficiency Act to limit contract change orders designated by government officials within the general scope of the contract only if funds are certified available for such contract change in advance of performance. Further, late federal contract payments to contractors should bear a late interest fee indexed to the rate charged by the federal government for late payment.

Employee Benefits Policies Positions

ISSUE: ERISA PREEMPTION EXEMPTION

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports modification of the 1974 ERISA Law to prevent the misapplication of ERISA’s preemption provisions to invalidate common state employment and benefit administration and contract collection laws, including prevailing wages, apprenticeship and benefit collection. SMACNA supports related clarifying technical corrections to the 1974 Act permitting state action, especially on state and locally funded public projects.

ISSUE: ERISA PREEMPTION — HEALTH CARE CLAIMS

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports the current ERISA claims process and preemption which precludes states from passing laws allowing claimants the right to sue health insurers and employers for unlimited punitive damage awards over an alleged breach of contract.

ISSUE: FEDERAL CONTRACT BENEFITS STANDARDS POLICY

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA believes that every federal contractor should provide health and retirement benefits to employees but opposes federal efforts which seek to legislate employee benefits which are subject to the collective bargaining process, including efforts to mandate family, medical, sick and related issues.

SMACNA opposes any health care initiatives which would:

    • Require employers already providing health care benefits for employees to subsidize employers who do not;
    • Unfairly penalize employers already providing health care;
    • Adversely interfere with ERISA-protected collective bargaining plans.
ISSUE: HEALTH CARE REFORM

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports legislative initiatives and tax policies which encourage groups and individuals to obtain health care coverage and which promotes access, portability, affordability and security of health benefits.

SMACNA opposes any health care initiatives which would:

    • Require employers already provided health care benefits for employees to subsidized employers who do not.
    • Unfairly penalize employers already providing health care.
    • Adversely interfere with ERISA protected collective bargaining plans.
ISSUE: PENSION REFORM POLICY

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports reform of ERISA and tax laws which would address the current structural problems facing defined benefit pension plans to ensure the viability of contributing employers and to secure retirement security for active and retired workers.

SMACNA opposes federal efforts which would seek to undermine the viability of Defined Benefit Pension Plans.

ISSUE: UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports legislation and regulations establishing workers’ compensation programs with premiums based upon hours worked or other factors such as sliding scale and/or credit adjustments designed to eliminate inequities found in payroll-based workers’ compensation programs.

Government/Political Reform Policies Positions

ISSUE: CAMPAIGN FINANCING REFORM POLICY

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports the maintenance of the voluntary political process in which individuals may contribute money to candidates, political parties, and PACs.  In addition, SMACNA supports limiting further restrictions on PACs and seeks repeal of the current rules requiring prior approval for trade association PACs exclusively.

ISSUE: REGULATORY REFORM

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports reform of the federal regulatory process based upon periodic review and expiration regulations, paperwork reduction, expanded small business participation in the rule making process and strict enforcement of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

Labor Policies Positions

ISSUE: ALCOHOL AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports substance screening procedures as well as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) for those in the bargaining unit; provided that testing is conducted by a qualified and accredited laboratory that maintains high quality control procedures and follows manufacturers’ protocols and performs acceptable confirmation assay such as a gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GC/MS); provided that tests are performed in a dignified, human and secure manner; provided that test results will be confidential and available only to those individuals who must be made aware; and provided that testing will be applicable to all levels of employment at the project site.

ISSUE: ANTI-COMPETITIVE UTILITY PRACTICES

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports federal, state and local efforts to reduce anti competitive utility practices, including cross subsidized business activities by utility enterprises.

ISSUE: ANTI-DUAL SHOP

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA opposes Anti-Dual Shop legislation because it is an attack on the fundamental freedom of individuals to invest in an enterprise of their choice, especially when market conditions demand alternate capabilities.

ISSUE: CONSTRUCTION AS COMMERCIAL ITEM

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports improvement and reform of federal procurement process based upon creative private sector incentives, such as e-commerce technologies, but does not support the treatment of construction services as a commercial item for procurement purposes. Further, SMACNA opposes the use of FAR part 12 as well as reserve auctions for construction procurement by public agencies.

ISSUE: CONSTRUCTION LIABILITY REFORM

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports an emphasis on state action with lesser activity at the federal level to alleviate the liability insurance crisis. State based coalitions with state and national organizations were suggested to staff for policy and legislative action to increase the availability of affordable liability insurance as well as addressing the statute of limitation and liability limits in court settlements.

ISSUE: CONSTRUCTION SAFETY AND HEALTH

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports the effective enforcement of OSHA and the creation of an OSHA Department of Construction. Further, SMACNA believes that improved safety training and education of employees and OSHA inspectors is needed if worksite safety is to become the norm. Employee accountability should be an integral component for any OSHA reform proposal.

ISSUE: CONSTRUCTION WORKSITE ACCESS FOR THE DISABLED

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports federal legislation promoting fair employment opportunities for the truly disabled provided that it: Recognizes the unique nature of the construction worksite, exempts construction worksites from federal accommodations requirements, and defines “reasonable accommodation” and “undue hardship.”

ISSUE: DAVIS-BACON REFORM

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports application the Davis-Bacon Act to on-site field work with established, periodic adjustments to the threshold levels to reflect changes in the federal inflation adjustment index.

ISSUE: EMPLOYEE RISK NOTIFICATION (POLICY EXPIRATION)

SMACNA POSITION: The Committee reviewed the policy and noted it has been obviated by long standing and accepted health and safety policy at the federal level and therefore is outdated and unnecessary. The Committee recommends it be allowed to expire rather than renewed. [The existing policy statement, “SMACNA supports the establishment and maintenance of a safe and healthy workplace but believes legislation that requires additional employee risk notification will do little to protect workers.”

ISSUE: FAIR EMPLOYMENT

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports equal opportunity employment but opposes quotas and other inequitable government limits to management’s employment discretion. SMACNA supports awarding employment opportunities based on reasonable and nondiscriminatory merit-based factors.

ISSUE: FEDERAL CONTRACTING TO PRIVATE FIRMS

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports the government ís reliance on the private sector for purchasing readily available construction products and services.

ISSUE: STRIKER REPLACEMENT

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports stable labor management relationships and the right of employers, if they so choose, to continue to operate during a strike by hiring replacement employees without additional government restrictions or intervention in the collective bargaining process.

Tax Policies Positions

ISSUE: BUSINESS CAPITAL TAXATION

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports reducing the capital gains rate and other taxes that increase the cost of investment capital.

ISSUE: COMPLETED CONTRACT METHOD OF ACCOUNTING

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports the unrestricted use of completed contract method of accounting for construction contractors.

ISSUE: ESTATE TAX PENALTY ON FAMILY BUSINESSES

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports the creation of family owned businesses and the equitable tax treatment of such family owned businesses. Closely held family businesses represent a cornerstone of this Nation’s economic system and social structure. SMACNA opposes any tax provisions unfairly limiting or hindering family owned business transfers of ownership between generations.

ISSUE: SOCIAL SECURITY ROLLBACK AND CAP

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports a phased rollback in Social Security and Medicare rates and a cap at the current taxable wage base. Once phased in, Social Security should be on a pay-as-you-go basis taking it off budget as recommended in the 1983 report of the President’s Commission on Social Security.

ISSUE: TAXATION OF FRINGE BENEFITS: EMPLOYEE LEGAL AND EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA supports employer provided legal and educational assistance as a tax free employee benefit.

ISSUE: TAXATION OF FRINGE BENEFITS

SMACNA POSITION: SMACNA opposes the taxation of fringe benefits.

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